Four panelists -- three of them veterans -- answered questions about their personal experiences navigating gender and sexuality issues at a public discussion at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont on Wednesday.
The event was part of a broader effort by the VA to let veterans know they can be honest about their gender and sexuality and still access medical care within the VA system.
"A number of individuals who identify as LGBT or Q that live in the community are completely out in their own lives, but not here at the VA and not with the military," said Calvin Smith, LGBT veteran care coordinator at the White River Junction VA.
Smith, an army veteran who identifies as queer, participated in the panel. “For me to where eyeliner whenever I was on duty – that was not a safe place. And really, I just did not share that part of myself with other people I served with," he said.
The VA will hold two more public events this month on gay and transgender issues, includes a discussion on transgender health and medicine with a Dartmouth-Hitchcock physician on June 27.